AFL News: Salary cap relief for concussion retirements will only go so far, Dunstall elevated to Legend status


Salary cap relief will be granted to clubs when players who are forced to retire due to concussion but only up to three years under a plan announced by the AFL.

The new guidelines have been sent to all clubs for any AFL or AFLW player who is forced to end their career early due to head knocks.

Melbourne star Angus Brayshaw, Collingwood premiership defender Nathan Murphy and young Bulldog Aiden O’Driscoll have retired this year due to concussion concerns after negotiating individual settlements with their respective clubs. 

In the case of Brayshaw, he was contracted for another four years so under the new guidelines, the final season of his deal would not be part of a payout.

According to the AFL, in the year immediately following the retirement, the max threshold will be 90 per cent, the second year the max threshold will be 75 per cent and in the third year the max threshold will be 50 per cent.

“No relief will generally be provided with regards to TPP (total player payments) commitments that extend four years or longer following the year of retirement. Clubs should ensure that this is appropriately factored into the risk assessment processes undertaken for player contracts that extend over four years,” the AFL statement said.

“The guidelines are only applicable in the specific circumstance of retirement occurring subject to a recommendation being made by the AFL concussion panel. Retirements due to other injuries, or decisions made unilaterally by the player or the club, will be subject to existing TPP assessment rules. 

“The guidelines do not provide a guarantee of TPP relief being provided with regards to any specific concussion-related retirement event. 

“The provision of TPP relief is at the complete discretion of the concussion TPP committee with consideration given to the terms of the relevant contract and the circumstances of each eligible retirement, and subject to the maximum thresholds approved.”

The AFL Commission also approved the TPP relief for AFLW players in the event they retire due to concussion.

“In the usual course, where an AFLW player is no longer able to play due to injury, the retiring player receives their contractual payments, but payments made to the replacement player are not assessable in the club’s TPP. However, under the provisions of the CBA and AFLW list rules, no matter what tier the retiring player is, they may only be replaced with a tier four player,” the statement said.

Nathan Murphy sustained a concussion during the 2023 grand final. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Dunstall becoming 32nd Legend

Jason Dunstall is shorter than some of the AFL’s current midfield beasts and is certain he would not survive pre-season training now.

But back when he was king, the Hawthorn full-forward was a goal-kicking machine.

The 59-year-old’s stellar playing career will officially receive another honour on Tuesday night when he is elevated to Legend status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

The AFL announced two months ago that Dunstall would become the 32nd Legend.

There will be at least six inductees honoured at the annual Melbourne function.

Dunstall was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2002, as soon as he became eligible.

A four-time premiership player, Dunstall kicked 1254 goals in a glittering 269-game AFL/VFL career, before injuries forced him into retirement in 1998.

Only Tony Lockett (1360) and Gordon Coventry (1299) are higher on the competition’s all-time list of leading goal-kickers.

Dunstall is one of only six players in AFL/VFL history to have kicked more than 1000 goals, and was the most prolific spearhead in a golden era for Hawthorn.

“I was at the end of the production line at Hawthorn,” he said.

The Queensland-born key forward was listed at 188cm, making him shorter than Carlton captain Patrick Cripps and Fremantle star Nat Fyfe.

Dunstall was modest when asked how he would fare if he was starting in the AFL now.

“I wouldn’t get through pre-season, to be brutally frank,” he said.

“I don’t know if I’d be a good enough athlete, honestly.

“But you kind of think if you were brought up in a different time, you’d be physiologically a little different and better prepared to come into the game.

Jason Dunstall and Gary Ayres enjoy one of their many premiership medals. (Photo by Getty Images)

“Because they have such a great pathway now, which wasn’t really in existence back in the eighties.”

Meanwhile, the inductees will not feature former West Coast star Ben Cousins, despite his much-improved circumstances after years of off-field problems.

The Brownlow Medallist became eligible for induction several years ago.

But Cousins said last month he understood the situation.

“I’m sure there’s a number of things that come into play when making those tough decisions,” the Eagles premiership player said.

“I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes and, yeah, there’s no ill will or animosity from my end.”

with AAP

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